A Winter Wonderland

A Christmas morning dressed in the quietness of snow flakes… a little house adorned with snow… a snowfall from a fairy tale, gentle and pure… from the snowbound street, now and then, tinkling of bells and children’s merry laughter… inside the house scent of fir tree and vanilla, festive lights and Mozart’s music: of commencement and without end… 

Advertisements

A Merry Christmas!

A bright, Merry Christmas to all the children of humanity’s most wonderful child: Mozart!  

Photos courtesy of Vienna Tourist Board 

If you’re looking for the perfect guide to Vienna, look no further than Vienna.info – the online travel guide to the wonderful city!  

Mail from Vienna :)

The other day I was remembering the special feeling of finding a real letter in the mailbox… the thoughts came to my mind while admiring some beautiful stationery: the finest writing paper embellished with an exquisite Florentine pattern. Yes, e-mail is ok, so fast, so convenient, we couldn’t do without it in our time… but we have lost something that we might never experience again: the warmth of that intimate feeling imprinted in a letter, the pleasure of writing with a pen on a beautiful paper, which will be carefully folded and wrapped in its matching envelope, to be sent to someone who in a few days will open the mailbox and find it there… the same joy that we feel when we turn the pages of a book and let ourselves become one with it, while it grows alive in our mind… 

Today the doorbell rang and  when I opened I saw the postwoman holding a small envelope and a big one, “too big to fit the mailbox”, she said, smilingly. The small envelope had travelled over the ocean, from my beloved aunt: adorned with delicate Christmas figures, it nested a beautiful card with her loving thoughts and Christmas wishes. The second envelope wore the mark of the Austrian Post, and was coming from Wien Tourismus, offering me the wonderful surprise of a book, “Wien Walks” (won in Wien.info’s competition, a few days ago), and the excellent 2012 magazine of Vienna Tourist Board 🙂 

Together with Merisi’s beautiful blog, the Vienna.info page is one I visit each day, because it is the perfect place to keep in touch with the news and most of all with the feeling of the Great City! Through their page my eyes see Vienna and my heart feels it. And today, when I received “the big envelope”, it was that special emotion of touching the letter, and with it a little part of Vienna… I  hope to be able to use “Wien Walks” next year – it is a precious wish on my Wishlist! 

Heartfelt thanks to Ms Birgit, to the Vienna Tourist Board, for their dedicated and professional work, for everything  they are doing to bring Vienna closer to us!  

 

If you haven’t decided yet which city to visit before Christmas, maybe this wonderful image of the Vienna Rathausplatz dressed in Christmas lights will show you the way!  

(photo courtesy of www.wien.info)

10 December 1791: Mozart lives!

In the evening of 10 December 1791 the Requiem was heard for the first time! Gathered in St Michael’s Church to attend the memorial for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the audience, holding their breath, listened to the heavenly masterpiece that Mozart only heard within himself. As the Requiem unfolded to the world, Mozart was offering humanity his last, most precious gift, and the proof that he will go on living forever, through his divine Music. 

20 November 1791 – Mozart takes to his bed with the illness that will eventually kill him. 

4 December 1791 – Around 2 p.m. some of the movements of the Requiem are sung through by Mozart, Süssmayr, Constanze, Schak, Hofer and Gerl. Among them the ‘Recordare‘, which Mozart loved dearly. 

5 December 1791 – Around 1 a.m. Mozart dies. He leaves an unfinished score of the Requiem, as well as some sketches and “scraps of paper”.  

6 December 1791 – Mozart is buried in St. Marx Cemetery.  

Before 10 December 1791 – Freystadtler enters strings and woodwinds in the “Kyrie” fugue of Mozart’s Requiem score (by and large merely doubling the vocal parts) in preparation for the upcoming performance.  

10 December 1791 – A requiem mass for Mozart is held in St. Michael’s Church in Vienna, at which a part or parts of the unfinished Requiem are sung. The staff of the Theather auf der Wieden participate in the memorial.  

Mozart remained completely conscious during his illness right to the end and died calmly, although regretfully. This can be readily understood, when one considers that Mozart had beeen officially appointed to the post of Kapellmeister in the Church of St. Stephen, and had the happy prospect of living peacefully without financial worries. He had also received, almost simultaneously, commissions from Hungary and Amsterdam, as well as many orders and contracts for works to be delivered at regular intervals.  

This extraordinary accumulation of happy auguries for a better future, the sad state of his financial affairs as they actually existed, the sight of his unhappy wife, the thought of his two young children; all these did not make the bitterness of his death any sweeter, particularly as this much admired artist, in his thirty-fifth year, had never been a stoic: “Just now”, thus he often lamented in his illness, “when I could have gone on living so peacefully, I must depart. I must leave my art now that I am no longer a slave of fashion, am no longer tied to speculators; when I could follow the flights of my fantasy, the path along which my spirit leads me, free and independent to write only when I am inspired, whatever my heart dictates. I must leave my family, my poor children, just when I would have been in a better condition to care for them….”  

On the day of his death he had the score of the Requiem brought to his bed. “Did I not say before that I was writing this Requiem for myself?” After saying this, he looked yet again with tears in his eyes through the whole work. This was the last sad sight of his Music and the painful farewell to his beloved Art, which was destined to become immortal.  

Gravediggers deposited Mozart in a “normal simple grave” (allgemeines einfaches Grab), not a communal (gemeinschaftlich) pit. Excepting the mausoleums of the aristocratic and wealthy, all burial sites constituted not personal property, but leaseholds of ten years: every decade the authorities plowed them, sowing back into the soil whatever stray bones turned up and thus preparing for new occupants. Such a furrowing dispersed whatever remained of Mozart and demolished a memorial marking his grave. Within a month of his death, a notice in the Wiener Zeitung (31 December 1791) had alluded to this stone table, the contributor suggesting an epitaph in Latin for it:  

“As a child, he who lies here,

through his harmonies, added to the wonders of the world;

as a man, he surpassed Orpheus.

Go your way

and pray earnestly for his soul.”  

Four days after the burial, so the Auszug aller europäischen Zeitungen (European Press Digest) of 13 December reported, the Viennese “celebrated solemn obsequies for the great composer Mozart” in St. Michael’s. (Accross from the Hofburg and the Burgtheater, it functioned as both parish church to the court and chapel to its musicians’ special society, the Congregation of St. Cecilia, to which Mozart had belonged.) On the sixteenth, the Viennese journal Der heimliche Botschafter (The Secret Messenger), which circulated in scribes’ copies, identified the music at this service as “the requiem he composed during his final illness…” With remarkable speed, disciples had extracted from the score those parts that had reached performable state as, with no less urgency, singers and instrumentalists learned them. In view of the manuscript’s unfinished condition, only the first movement, and perhaps the second with some instrumental touches added, could have been performed with orchestra; the other sections very likely took the form of Mozart’s choruses sung by a quartet and supported by organ continuo; plainchant might have filled the missing sections. 

This is how Mozart’s Requiem must have sounded like on that day of

10 December 1791… 

Prague marked Mozart’s death four days later with a requiem (a setting by Franz Anton Rossler, also known as Antonio Rosetti) in St. Nicholas’s, packed by a throng of more than four thousand overflowing into the surrounding streets.  

It has taken perhaps two hundred years for the world to realize fully and in all its aspects what this loss has meant to music – and to humanity. Haydn said: “Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years!” Posterity has not seen it in two hundred.  

(Excerpts from: Niemetschek: Leben des Kappellmeisters Mozart (Life of Mozart), published 1798; Christoph Wolff: Mozart’s Requiem (Historical and Analytical Studies, Documents, Score); Robert W. Gutman: Mozart, a Cultural Biography; Anton Herzog: True and Detailed History of the Requiem by W.A. Mozart. From its inception in the year 1791 to the present period of 1839 – incorporating information found in Stadler: Vertheidigung der Echtheit des Mozartischen Requiem)

Finally Süssmayr was persuaded to complete the unfinished great work, and he admits in letters to the music publishers (Breitkopf & Härtel) in Leipzig that during Mozart’s lifetime he played and sang through with him the pieces that had already been composed, namely “Requiem”, “Kyrie”, “Dies irae”, “Domine” and so forth, and that he (Mozart) very often discussed the completion of this work and communicated (to Süssmayr) the way and the reasons of his orchestration.  

From this point, and up to the dispatch of the score to Herr Count, I am obliged to turn to Herr Abbe Stadler’s account, which I will quote here, because his two pamphlets may well not be in everyone’s possession. He says:” The first movement, ‘Requiem’ with the fugue, and the second, ‘Dies irae’, up to ‘Lacrimosa’, were for the most part orchestrated by Mozart himself, and there was not much more for Süssmayr to do than what most composers leave for their amanuenses to do. Süssmayr’s work really began with the ‘Lacrimosa’. But here too Mozart had written out the violins himself; and Sussmayr only finished it from after ‘judicandus homo reus’ to the end. Similarly, in the third movement, ‘Domine’, Mozart had written the violins’ music in this score, where the voices are silent; where the voices enter he had indicated the motives for the instruments here and there, but quite clearly. He gave the violins two and a half bars to perform alone before the ‘Quam olim’ fugue. He wrote two bars for the violins before the entry of the voices at ‘Hostias’, and eleven bars at ‘Memoriam facimus’, in his own hand. 

“We see nothing more from his pen after the end of ‘Hostias’ except the words ‘Quam olim da Capo’. This is the end of Mozart’s original autograph score.

  

 

The Michaelerkirche, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, is one of the oldest churches in Vienna, a late Romanesque, early Gothic building, dating from about 1220-1240. Its present day aspect is unchanged since 1792. This church, close to the Michaeler wing of the Hofburg, used to be the parish church of the Imperial Court (it was then called ‘Zum heiligen Michael’).  

The night has come…

The papers of divorce 

between the world and the genius

were deposited

in the common grave of the Vienna cemetery

on 6 December

1791,

there where,

to its glory,

the World

threw Mozart

under the  septic lime

of final oblivion.

And since then

the scene

has kept repeating. 

The night has come, 

Mozart…  

He drew his last breath on the day of 5 December, at one in the morning, watched by his wife’s sister. His body was washed by loyal friends. They accompanied him when he left his house for the last time. It was them again who brought him to the Saint Stephen Cathedral, in a chapel in which he would wait for the religious ceremony – a simple one, according to the low fee of the third class funeral paid for by Baron Van Swieten. His wife had left the house a few hours after his death, “out of too much pain”, and would stay with friends for the next days. She didn’t keep vigil over his dead body, she didn’t follow him on his last journey. It was winter in Vienna, it was cold, it was almost night… God, what a terrible night of mankind!… One by one, the living abandoned the funeral convoy, and so by the time the hearse had passed the Stubenthor and reached the graveyard of St Marx, Mozart‘s lifeless body was being attended only by the driver of the carriage. By that time, in St Marx there had already been two pauper funerals. Mozart was the third. His body was deposited in the common grave, uppermost, by the gravedigger’s assistant and the driver of the hearst. Then came the night. 

Mozart left alone. He remained alone. His wife, “dearest, most beloved little wife”, as he would address  her in his letters, didn’t look for his grave for eleven years. Although her state of health seemed to have quickly improved, since only a few weeks after his demise she was already corresponding with a few well-known editors with a view of selling his manuscripts. And never again, after his death, was she in need to go to Baden for cures; she capitalized his musical inheritance, she remarried, she rewrote his life together with her second husband, and she outlived her first husband fifty years. 

None of his close friends, none of those who knew and loved his music and being, no one looked for his grave, not after one day, not after one month, not after one year. The regulations of the time indicated the deposition in a “common” grave according to the amount of money paid by the Baron, but they did not forbid the placing of a funeral stone on the cemetery wall. Neither Constanze Mozart nor his friends, nor the nobles he had ennobled with his feeling and creation, neither the Viennese who would hum his melodies in cafes, no one searched for him… No one felt the need to prove their respect and affection by marking the place where, on top of other bodies, he found his rest – he, the angel God had sent to the earth of humans who never understood and loved him in truth… 

Ten years after, the common grave was opened, the bones taken out, to make space for other mortals. This was what the third class funeral meant: a grave which confined more bodies together for ten years, and that was all. After ten years, a pile of bones, taken out to be deposited where?… we will never know. A higher class funeral would have meant a grave in the family’s property in the St Marx Cemetery. But it would have cost more: for his wife, for his close friends, for his admirers, for Vienna! And none of those who knew him, who were close to him, no one of those whom he had honored with the divine touch of his being, no one felt that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart deserved a funeral of a higher class. 

The papers of divorce between the world and the genius were deposited in the common grave of the Vienna cemetery on 6 December 1791, there where, to its glory, the World threw Mozart under the septic lime of final oblivion. And since then the scene has kept repeating. 

The night has come, Mozart… 

Rest in peace, beloved friend! 

“The night has come, Mozart…” © Claudiu Iordache – published with the author’s permission. 

An endless sorrow. Mozart.

It is 5 December. For 220 years humanity has been waiting for you to come back. Your music has survived and will go on. But we miss your living heart, your soul enlightened by a divine feeling of harmony! For you have been His gift, which we have not loved enough when He took you back. 

You, Mozart, harrowing light of the darkness that surrounds us! In your park clad in mourning dress, the leaves of winter are whispering your name. It is 5 December. A serene calm overtaken by the night until the world abandoned itself to the despair of understanding it had lost you for ever! If only we could, through our love, resurrect your fragile being, so you could smile to us again, you, Mozart majestically  sleeping in our soul! If only you could hear how it hurts to know you were summoned for ever there where only angels shiver as they listen to you. Oh, Mozart, it is night, the total, endless night in a day of 5 December! A day in which both you and we died a little… 

Mozart, Mozart, Mozart, celestial echo of humanity’s child…